Trip Report    

Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Crystal Mountain Backcountry / Bear Gap

Fun day exploring the Bear Gap area in the Crystal Mountain backcountry.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • We skinned up through the resort (having obtained the necessary inbounds uphill cards) and then took the usual left to Henskin Lake.  The skin track was partially filled-in with recent snow but was easy enough to follow; the picture below is from our second lap.


    Snow quality in the Silver Creek basin was generally good, with the best snow lower down and obvious areas of wind-effected snow higher toward the ridge tops.


    On the one SE aspect we skied in the Morse Creek basin, the fresh snow formed a thin layer over  a hard crust.  Lower down (~5800'), the thin layer of fresh snow became brittle and would break up and slide off.  Skinning back up was unpleasant, with neither the thin surface layer nor the crust providing good traction, so the group opted to boot back up to the ridge top.  (This is a good reminder to ensure that participants carry ski crampons and have packs that can carry skis.)


Our group of five set out from the Crystal base lodge at around 9AM, and after skinning up through the resort and then turning toward Henskin Lake, we were pleased to find that we were the only party out in the Bear Gap area.

The established skin track up toward Bear Gap was partially filled in with fresh snow but easy enough to follow, and once we were able to see the ridge line, we selected a line that approximated "Super Bowl" as our first run.  The snow was excellent from 6000' down, so we skied all the way down to Henskin Lake.



From the lake, after having enjoyed the run, we skinned back up to the ridge to a point just W of the 6200' high point to see what we thought about a run down into the Morse drainage.


The SE aspect (looker's right in the above) looked appealing but had very different skiing with a couple inch layer of fresh over a stout, icy crust.  We skied about 500' of enjoyable fall line until snow conditions deteriorated in the trees.


The stout icy crust was supportive for skiing or skinning, but the thin layer of fresh snow made skinning tedious; so the group switched to boots part way up and rotated turns kicking steps back up to the ridge.  (Ski crampons would have made skinning more efficient, but booting was ultimately the fastest way up.)


We picked a NNE line down from the ridge that ran parallel to "Bear Gap Bowl" and offered some fun turns in good snow through rolling terrain and big trees, eventually exiting by skiing along the summer trail.  (On another visit to the same terrain, it looks like a turn to the W at around 5350' would keep us out of the narrow creekbed.)